I had never heard of sunblock before moving south. Up north we would pour the tanning oils and lotions all over us trying to brown ourselves but here in the south, the old cliché “a little dab will do you,” carries a lot of truth in it. It isn’t that the sun is different in the south than in the north, however, I think being closer to the center of the equator makes the difference.
When my husband and I took our children to the beach one afternoon as a precaution, I brought along sunblock with SPF 5. At the time, SPF 5 was the strongest sunblock anyone could buy. It was primarily targeted toward children and babies.
In spite of the fact I kept my children swathed in sunblock, I also kept a watch on them to make sure they were not getting too pink. It’s been known to happen. Even with the strongest of sunblock I have been sunburned before when out enjoying the occasion.
Because we’re old shoes at this and live around here, we could lie on the beach and spot the tourists that flooded the white sands. They’re easy to spot because they are all just as white as the silt.
When a nice family parked a few feet away from us and I saw the milky white color of their skin, I pulled the sunblock out of the ice chest and offered it to them.
“Oh we’re fine,” the mom said. “We are used to getting tans at home.”
“Oh,” I said noticing the ghostly white color of the three small children with her and her husband. If this was tan, this must be a family of Albinos. “Where is home?”
“New Jersey. We lay out on the beach all the time there.”
An hour later, I noticed Dad’s bald head was turning a nice shade of pink. Looking at the children ages toddler to preteen, I saw, they too, were getting a little pinkish.
I went to the mom again with the sunblock. “Are you sure about this? I know we use the same sun but honestly, it’s quite different here in the Carolinas.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure, but thank you anyway,” she refused.
Looking at the children again, I said, “Okay, it’s here if you need it though. Just ask and it’s yours.”
An hour past that, we decided our own children were starting to turn pink and we need to go in. In the south, you don’t really redden until after you go inside and shower. Then what was once pink often turns red and painful.
I glanced over at our visiting New Jersey family and notice that Dad is coming up the beach with all three children in tow, and all three are red as lobsters. I also noticed Mom was packing to go.
Still, in a last ditch effort, I went back to the family and explain we’re leaving and offer the sunblock just one last time. "If for nothing else, just as a soothing lotion."
All my efforts were again refused. As we headed off the beach, I went over to mom the final time and said, “You guys are way too red and you are going to pay for this later.” Then, I gave her directions to the local hospital. As red as that family was, they were going to need it.